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Gen. 14:1-16 - Lot’s Rescue - Part 2
[Read part one here]
In the early verses of Genesis 14 during the struggle between the forces of a great king and his allies, on the one had, and his rebellious subject peoples, on the other, Lot was caught up almost by accident.
Almost but not entirely! It was not completely coincidence that he happened to be residing in Sodom as we saw a couple weeks ago. He may have considered himself an innocent bystander, but he was there in pursuit of his own material gain which we covered pretty well last week.
“And they also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom” (Genesis 14:12). What a commentary on the decision of Lot in chapter 13. Lot had chosen to act on the basis of economic self-interest, and had thus disregarded the covenant God had made with Abram.
What Lot should have learned is that “he who lives by the sword, also dies by it.” Economic self-interest was the motive of the kings of both alliances, both southern and Mesopotamian. All that Lot seemed to have gained by taking advantage of Abram was lost in an instant, and seemingly by chance. He was caught in the middle of an international incident. Can you imagine the thoughts which went through Lot’s mind as he and his family and all their goods were being carted off to a distant land? He who had been so shrewd was now a slave, and all because of his selfish choice.
Also do you notice that Lot was said to have been living in Sodom (verse 12)? When we left him in chapter 13 he was first living in the valley of the Jordan, heading eastward (13:11). Then he moved his tents as far as Sodom (13:12). At last Lot is one of them, at least so far as the victors were concerned.
Lot’s story also provides us a challenge for those of us who live to comfortably alongside those who are of an entirely different spirit than us. Many of us, like Lot, have happily settled down and assimilated ourselves to our environment. Ya hang in the barn long enough ya end up smelling like the cows. While God can easily rescue the godly from the judgment that is to come on the wicked, it is not as easy as we think to remain godly while living in the CLOSE company of the wicked. Although God delivered Lot from the judgment he brought on Sodom, Lot certainly didn’t come out smelling like roses.
There is also another aspect to the kidnapping of Lot. It was not simply something that happened to a righteous person who happened to be living a somewhat compromised lifestyle. Rather, it was a threat to the promise of descendants and the land that God had given to Abram. After all, at this point in the story, Lot was the only family that Abram had. What good is a Promised Land if at any moment a mighty army of foreigners can come at any time and carry you off into exile?
Abram could have easily left Lot to his fate. Remember a couple weeks ago we saw Lot had selfishly chosen what looked like the best portion of the land and had foolishly linked his fortunes with wicked people, and, in the process, had distanced himself from his best and truest friend. Most any of us would have sat back on our sofas while watching TV and said: “Ok, it’s time for that young man to learn some hard lessons. He chose where to live and didn’t have enough sense to stay away from trouble, he’ll just have to live with his decision.” Or how about: “This doesn’t have anything to do with me, that’s his concern.
He made his bed, let him lie in it!” In other words, in sharing the fate of Sodom, Lot was simply getting what was coming to him as the natural result of his sinful choices.
In pursuing Lot, Abram was taking a whole lot of risks. By rescuing Lot, Abram was also making some pretty powerful enemies, and going up against armies in the thousands, Abram’s own forces were pitifully small. But Abram, the man of Faith, knew the principle put into words many years later: “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” (1 Sam. 14:6).
Here too is the challenge to each of us. When deciding whether or not to help in a situation, we typically base our decision on the answers to two questions:
- Does this person deserve my help?
- Can I help them without any risk or inconvenience to myself?
If the answer to both of these questions is yes, we are normally glad to do what we can to help. If no, then we tend to hold back.
But Abram didn’t think like that! Lot didn’t deserve to be rescued. He had gotten himself into this mess. But the bottom line was that Lot was his family: “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit...” (14:14). We need to be careful not to read our own understanding into the text, and cannot be certain that it was Abram’s faith or honor that made him to undertake such a risky quest while seemingly so greatly outnumbered. At least we must be careful of reading an act of faith into the text. Nowhere is Abram’s motive clearly stated. Great people don’t judge others for having needs - even troubles they’ve brought upon themselves. Great people see the crisis of another as a call to action.
Join us next week for the conclusion to Lot’s rescue. Blessings to you all.